The Paris Experience, No Passport Required! Did you ever wonder what it’s like to live like a Parisian, or enjoy the European lifestyle wherever you may be?
Don’t worry, I’ve got the Paris insider dibs on what life in Paris really like, from my bestie!
At some point in our lives, most of us dream of what it would be like to live in the most romantic, chic and alluring cities of the world, Paris, France.
Today, we have a long time friend of mine, Richard Nahem, as he gives us a cultural tour of what it’s really like to embrace this dream in an authentic, adventurous and exciting way.
Before moving to Paris, Richard was a native New Yorker, chef and cultural event leader. Which is why his perspective on Parisian life is so fascinating. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, just like me but picked up and moved his life from New York City to France over 17 years ago to start his own business, Eyepreferparis.com. Now, he has the knowledge and exclusive cultural insight to show the world what the city of light truly has to offer.
It doesn’t get more genuine than this, I mean, there’s a reason Richard is one of the bonus experts included in my C’est Chic Crash course!
Sit back and enjoy this week’s 7 Days to Amazing podcast!
Visit Richard’s Blog And Take a Tour of Paris Yourself!
Head over to Richard Nahem’s blog, www.EyePreferParis.com and get an even more in depth look of Parisian life through Richard’s Eyes
While your’re there, book a tour for your next vacation. Eye prefer Paris has been written up in Trip advisor as the # 22 top tours of Paris/ Richard has also been mentioned in Travel Agent Central magazine, France Today and Passport magazine! Don’t miss out.
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Announcer: Welcome to the Seven Days to Amazing Podcast where you learn how to make your life, business and style even more amazing in the next week! Now your host, Sharon Haver, of FocusOnStyle.com.
Sharon Haver: Hello chicsters! I am Sharon Haver and you are about to be amazed! I have a very special guest on today’s episode of the 7 Days to Amazing Podcast.
Richard Nahem is the founder of the EyePreferParis blog and EyePreferParis tours since 2006.
We all have that special place we dream of living in but Richard made that happen when he not only left New York, being my best friend since my Brooklyn days, but picked himself up in Paris where he started his own thriving business there. His Paris and private photos have appeared in travel publications and on websites such as Travel Agent Central magazine, France Today and Passport magazine. He won the juror award of merit in the International Art of Photography competition in 2013.
When living in New York Richard was a successful private chef, caterer, event planner and producer of cultural events. He has worked with many celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Whitney Houston and Joan Rivers. Off his bio Richard is also able to identify any disco song within the first three beats!
After a teenage trip to Paris Richard became an instant Francophile. He visited the city frequently until he made it his home in 2005. With 25 years of rave reviews from friends & colleagues, Richard decided to make his own private tours of his Paris public. His goal is to provide adventurous and exciting tours through Paris for the independent and spirited traveler. Richard is also one of my featured guests on my program, The C’est Chic Crash Course where he shares how to find your real Parisian style wherever you are.
Today we are going to talk about how you can find your own personal Paris or your special place wherever you are on this episode of 7 Days to Amazing. I would like to take a second and welcome Richard Nahem – I am thrilled to have you here with us today! The guy who used to live a couple of blocks away from where I grew up, you’re all the way across the world on another continent and I never see you anymore… Thank you for coming here and sharing your brilliance with our audience.
Richard Nahem: Bonsoir or good evening as they say here in Paris! It’s a little chilly here tonight but clear and beautiful as there was a full moon last night and I got a really great photo of it. I am happy to be your guest tonight (or today in New York!).
Sharon Haver: Well Richard was always better at being a night owl than anyone else, the guys is great on a dance floor, let me tell you! We spent a lot of time together Richard & I, we actually met many years ago during spring break in Florida on one of those disgusting plastic bench depot buses only to find that only to find out that we lived a few blocks away from each other. I was still in high-school and Richard had graduated and we have become lifelong friends since.
Richard is very… what’s a good way to describe it?
Richard Nahem: Sort of a Renaissance man in some ways! When I moved to Paris I totally reinvented myself.
Sharon Haver: He went from the Richard we all knew from Highlife in Florida, from Brooklyn with the catering business, from truffles which he used to have these to-die-for truffles in this truffle shop to catering photoshoots, to creating celebrity panels in New York which was really cool. He picked up and went to Paris and in Paris he was quickly able to align with the lifestyle through all of his travel and was able to not live like a tourist, but live like a local.
And that’s what I wanted him to talk to us about today as well all have our places that we dream of, we all want to go somewhere, and sometimes we just can’t or we want to bring it all home with us. So Richard, can you tell me how did it happen, how were you able to adapt to a different culture, and let’s talk about how you can have your own defining moment of doing that and how you can help people find their own private special place where they are.
Richard Nahem: Sure, I’d love to share that with you. I moved to Paris in 2005 after 30 years of dreaming about living in Paris. I moved here and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in Paris and I didn’t want to do chef or catering work anymore as I had done so for 20 years in New York. So when I moved here I took a year off and all of my friends and relatives would say ‘oh you’re taking a year off that is great and we are going to come visit you,’ or they always wanted information on the latest exhibit they should go to, what’s the best hotel they should stay in what are the really hot restaurants in Paris? So I would email them and bring them up to date on the latest & greatest things in Paris and eventually I started a blog because I thought it was a more efficient way to share with people what was going on in Paris.
Sharon Haver: For a lot of people it’s about not knowing how to change your business or what to do, it’s kind of the one too many approach. If someone is a go-to expert on something, instead of just sitting there and telling people (which you can if you are a coach or consultant), you put it in a bigger format so you can reach more people and increase your audience.
Richard Nahem: Right and the thing was, back in the early days of blogging in 2005, there weren’t that many Parisian blogs and I was one of the first people to have an insider guide to Paris again, telling them about the latest & greatest things to do here in arts, culture, food, exhibits and historical things. But also from an American perspective which was important as I obviously see Paris a different way than Parisians do. In fact, many Parisians read my blog because even they don’t sometimes know what’s going on.
Sharon Haver: So tell me, looking at it from both vantage points, how do you see style as a New Yorker? How do you see style as a Parisian? The identifying factors of what’s the difference? How Parisians live their life? How you can find style wherever you are and look at it a different way and find your inspiration?
Richard Nahem: The thing with French style is that women dress in a more pulled together way here, even when women dress casually, they never look sloppy. In other words, they still look casual but not sloppy or out of place even running paths. In fact, they only wear exercise clothes only when they exercise. They don’t go grocery shopping, they don’t pick up their kids in that.
When they go to the gym, they always bring clothes with them to change into so they never go out in their gym clothes even if they have to go run errands.
That’s a very different thing. They also wear a lot less makeup here which I really appreciate. They spend more money on facial products than they do one makeup and you can really see that because they do have nice skin, they don’t wear as much makeup. And even though there are tons of hair salon’s here, they never look like they have had their hair done, which is always interesting to me.read more
Sharon Haver: It’s the undoneness. I see it a lot not in my personal circles but I see it a lot online with a lot of women bloggers who think they also dream of Paris and think they are so Parisian dolled up in party dresses and false eyelashes and tons of makeup and coiffed hair and it’s like is that is anything like real Parisian? It’s more like the Carrie Bradshaw approach to the 50’s in Paris.
Richard Nahem: The other thing two is that a lot of the time there is a defining accessory. It could be this one great coat in an amazing color with neutrals worn underneath or sometimes it’s just a great shoe that they are wearing with simple jeans and a jean jacket, but they’ll have these fabulous pair of shoes on. They aren’t afraid to mix things, especially an accessory. For instance, you’ll see they are wearing evening shoes during the day but it totally works for some weird reason.
Sharon Haver: The unexpectedness of it all…
Richard Nahem: Right, right.
Sharon Haver: It’s like wearing sequins under a denim jacket or silver metallic shoes with red jeans.
Richard Nahem: I think those are some of the things I think women should go out of their comfort zone a bit and take one or two great accessories that can change things. That are a little more daring.
In other words, you could be a conservative dresser, but you could think like a French person and throw on a trench coat with a pair of glitter flats or a jeweled scarf. Something to give it oomph.
Sharon Haver: What do you think makes Paris so amazing? To bring it home here, people know what Paris is, but what makes it so amazing if you are in New York, if you’re in Rome, if you’re in Toledo, in L.A, in Geneva? How can you have whatever is the other city that is so special to you, the one you dream of – how can you take that essence wherever you live and bring it into your daily life?
Richard Nahem: One of the big things is attention to detail in many areas, obviously the architecture here is just beautiful. In the food, in the fashion. So even with food, yes it tastes amazing, but it’s the presentation. You go to a bakery and the colors are beautiful but in fact they only have one person in charge of the display of the bakery. And they always make sure that it looks good and it looks full – it never looks empty. And the shops here, the windows are so beautiful and again, it is all about the presentation. It is just as important as anything else.
There’s even small things they do for instance the way they wrap a package. You could buy a five dollar chocolate bar and they’ll wrap it to look like a million bucks. If you give a person that chocolate bar they’ll think they got a $100 bar. Even subtle thing when you go to a boutique for example and the salesperson will never give it to you from behind a desk, they’ll come around and hand it to you.
Sharon Haver: So interesting and from a business standpoint, it’s the level of customer service of making everything seem special and taking pride in what you are doing. Of course we won’t talk about some of the waiters in cafes who can barely get you a cup of coffee.
Richard Nahem: In a lot of the smaller boutiques here, when customers walk in and they start to look at things, they’ll say to somebody who puts something on that ‘I don’t think this is for you’ and they will show them another piece. And in the U.S.A, they would never do that, they’ll try to sell them whatever they have.
There’s that old joke where the salesperson says ‘oh that looks amazing on you!’ and the customer say ‘well, it’s on backwards.’
Sharon Haver: I think I know what shop you are talking about, the one right ear Colette.
If someone goes to Paris and they get excited, what are some of the things like Colette, which has been such a trendsetting shop for years, it’s gotta be like 25 or 30 years if not more, how do you find those little boutiques? The one where they come out from behind the counter? You know, Richard once took us to the cooler part of the Marais, which is sort of the SoHo or Greenwich Village of Paris, and it’s not the big fancy stores, it’s little avant-garde, cutting edge cool boutiques. Much more down to earth, much more special to me rather than the big tourist shops full of clothes they cannot even afford. Sure, there’s expensive stuff there, but it is just cooler.
So how do you find that where you live? How can people bring that edge/cool essence, they Euro cool to wherever they are in their life, in their business, in their day? How can they be amazing in that way?
Richard Nahem: There’s a couple of ways. Obviously with blogs you get those personal things people write about or share and there’s a lot of Parisian bloggers.
Ines de la Fressange who is a cult fashion figure here is the evergreen French woman. Every Frenchwoman wants to be like her, she was a muse & model for Saint Laurent and then she started her own fashion company and is the spokesperson for Roger Vivier shoes. People are always interviewing her and has the the ultimate French style.
It’s that confidence and again, she could wear a t-shirt & a pair of jeans with that fabulous bag or pair of shoes.
Sharon Haver: I cover Ines a lot on FocusOnStyle, especially when it comes to French Chic, she does have that gorgeous casual, undone way with her short purposely messy hair, little makeup with a great boyfriend jacket, perfect shoes and she also has that great cheap chic line at Uniqlo which I think is a great point here.
She’s also really skinny and tall, and she’s in her 50’s and I think she is adorable. The thing I notice (besides her feet being bigger than mine – finally!) and find interesting when looking at her Uniqlo line is that the stuff in there that she is photographed in, and we all know by now that from my stylist days you can make anything look beautiful, but that’s not the point, the point is that it is simple. And that’s what makes French style great, the stuff that she wears has that extra element of simple but it can be so difficult to pull off if you are not tall, if you are not skinny, it can suddenly become boring.
It’s that edge, it’s the body, the attitude, the way they walk. They can take a floral Peter Pan collar and make it look hot.
Richard Nahem: The other thing too is that while it is not always easy, look for things with a cut that looks great on you even if you have to spend more money. Just buy one fabulous dress for say $700 instead of $300 because you’ll have that one dress forever and it will look fabulous on you. Buy that one dress you look really special in instead of many.
Sharon Haver: I learned that when I was on my first trip to Europe to stay at a friend’s house on the French Riviera and there was a girl with us who was a pharmacist in her early 20’s and she was beautiful and would wear the same lavender Cacharel dress everyday. Everyday without fail day in & out and I thought it was so fascinating because here I was with a closet I couldn’t close and her was the girl who looked spectacular, a Marion Cotillard type and everyday she wore the same dress.
And I started to notice, I was about 18 or 19 at the time, that all of these other women around me in the south of France, they all wore the same good dress everyday. It was their uniform and they didn’t care if you saw them wearing it yesterday, or today or tomorrow, they pulled themselves together in one piece that was a good piece they could afford.
Richard Nahem: The other thing to is it’s also practical here as Paris apartments are tiny and people don’t have big walk-in closets here, they have one closet with two racks. So they can’t fit you know 40 coats and 30 dresses in there so they just buy a few pieces each year. The average size apartment here is 500 or 600 sq ft in Paris so how much closet space could you have?
Sharon Haver: Imagine how much style they have in that 500 sq ft apartment because they know how to find the right pieces and that is something I would like to center on. Maybe you’ve observed it there, I know for me with Parisians, I was talking to someone yesterday about this as I teach it in the C’est Chic crash Course is that it’s in their blood and it goes down from generation to generation as to what you should wear, what you shouldn’t wear. Just as how you were talking about the woman in the shop suggesting ‘no, that is not the right piece for you,’ there’s a certain guideline, there’s a certain structure as to what they wear as they get more out of less and it’s right as opposed to Americans who never had that education or upbringing and don’t know where they can pull in and find it.
Richard Nahem: The other thing two with Americans is that they are especially drawn to celebrity style. So that dress on Kim Kardashian – ‘I gotta have that dress no matter how bad or god it looks on me’ and it’s just not so here. There’s not as much of a celebrity culture here.
Sharon Haver: So tell me, how to do you spend your amazing week in Paris? What do you do?
Richard Nahem: First of all, you take a couple of tours with me so I can show you the real Paris.
Sharon Haver: His tours are great by the way!
Richard Nahem: Well, it is a combination of things. You’ll want to go see the tourist sites if you’ve never been here and it’s great to see that stuff but for me the real fun is walking the streets, observing, going to cafes, watching people. I think people watching was invented here. And walking into stores, even if it’s stuff you don’t think you are going to like or buy, it’s just wonderful to observe. Seeing the French style everywhere around you.
And it’s not that easy, but it is fun to talk to people at times in the shops. All you have to do is say hello and they’ll be nice to you and will show you things.
Sharon Haver: Again, it’ acknowledgement which I was talking about earlier today. People want to be acknowledged and I know for me walking into a store in the states and the salesperson behind the counter can’t lift their head up when I walk in and greet me or say good buy, I don’t want to buy anything.
The way you see someone’s Facebook feed and click ‘like,’ no one is above acknowledgement. It’s about respect and it matters.
Richard Nahem: Yes and people think Parisians are rude but it’s not really that they are, they just want you to say hello to them. The other perfect thing to do in the week here is to sip champagne in the middle of the day (cause they actually do that here) and do something fun like go to The Four Seasons hotel and look at the amazing floral arrangements. Sometimes it is about doing the offbeat stuff here that can be fun instead of going to every single monument.
Sharon Haver: That is a good tip too to go to The Four Season’s hotel when someone will say they can’t afford it because they come from a place with a lack of abundance…
Richard Nahem: ‘Or they’ll never let me in!’
Sharon Haver: Exactly, just go in and suck it up. You don’t have to spend the night there but just see it.
Richard Nahem: Yes, just walk through the lobby! I actually do it with some of my tours believe it or not. I am the only guy who takes my tours through The Four Seasons lobby because it is inspirational and I also love to show people the modern Paris. Monuments are great but it’s also really great to take people to little shops, food shops and show and tell them how modern Parisians live in current day Paris and show them different customs. You know they don’t really eat until around 8:30 so if you go into a restaurant at 7 it will be dead. They don’t really eat breakfast so when people ask ‘oh where should I go for breakfast?’ in Paris where they don’t really eat more than a croissant and a coffee.
That is pretty much the Paris diet, they don’t even serve omelettes until about noon. They also don’t really eat between meals and restaurants open later, you can’t walk in at 6. Everything here is later. Sometimes people want tours at 9am, but there’s really nothing open here that early in the morning. Most restaurants and shops open here between 10:30 or 11, so everything starts here much later than the states.
Sharon Haver: Do you ever get resistance from people who come there who are trying to live their lifestyle in another city?
Richard Nahem: The thing is Americans sometimes have the expectation that they think not everyone speaks English here, sometimes I will tour with clients and they start speaking French to people here not realizing that they may speak English too.
Sharon Haver: What do you think was the number one difference in culture you have found after moving to Paris from here that someone can take with them? Something someone can add to their life to make it more amazing…
Richard Nahem: I think here, which is really difficult for me as a New Yorker who wants everything here now is that even though it is a big city and things move somewhat quickly here is that it’s not as quick as New York and people really take the time to do things here. In some ways it’s really wonderful and in some it can really drive you crazy. The pace of living here is slower so if you want to do dinner and a movie, do the movie first and then dinner because you will never get out on time.
Dinner here is a minimum of an hour and a half to two hours so you can’t go in and out in half an hour. It doesn’t happen here. People really dine here, they don’t just eat food and then leave. They’ll have three courses here, and then a cheese course and then a coffee, and dessert. But they won’t eat between meals and that is why they have such large courses for lunch or dinner.
The pace of living here is much slower and people don’t make 47 appointments like in the states. In New York people will get up at 5am and do an hour and a half yoga class and then a spin class and get to their desk at 8 o’clock. French people don’t do that. They don’t exercise the first thing when they get up, maybe they will during their lunch hour, but they do not pack in 47 things in one day like most Americans do.
Sharon Haver: But things seem to get done, they always seem to work out. If you want to give us 3-4 tips for someone to feel like they are in Paris when they can’t get to Paris, I know last week you were in Italy and Florence, and I get jealous of reading about your European adventures all of the time, cause when you are in New York and you want to go on a short little jaunt you go to New Jersey, or Connecticut. But you live in Paris and you can go to that city and that city…
Richard Nahem: Yeah in an hour and a half in New York I may be halfway to the Hamptons, but here I could be in Venice, and that’s another wonderful thing about living here.
Sharon Haver: So if you live in the states or living somewhere else where you don’t have that much diversity and different cultures – yes we have it here as a melting pot of people but not with the architecture and being in the environment. How can someone get their mindset, their inspiration going, whatever it is, to make their life more amazing whatever their city is? I mean case in point we are talking about Paris right now but wherever it is that they can find their perfect something where they are at the moment.
Richard Nahem: I think in this digital age now, it’s so much easier in certain ways to access that. Read travel publications, there’s this magazine called Afar and everyday I get daily stories from them about where to travel, where to go with different tips. It’s reading travel sites and travel blogs and immersing yourself in so many wonderful books about Paris. For my blog almost every month I get sent about 3-4 books on Paris. What’s also nice is that there are a lot of books about Americans living in Paris so you can almost identify with their Americanness but also see how they start to fit in with the Parisian and French Culture.
It’s interesting to read how people come here and find their way. The other thing too is going to a department store and looking at the latest Chanel clothing. Sure, you may not be able to afford it but it’s free to look at. With so much online now, even on Facebook, you know I have 3,500 friends and I get to read that they are always off on some adventure or I have a lot of friends who are interior designs and I get to see their style and how they do French style.
Digitally you can really surround yourself or with coffee table books there’s always a wonderful book that you can just sit back with for a couple of hours and have a glass of champagne with that.
Sharon Haver: Yes and I think for a lot of women, I really want to emphasize how you said French women do not wear a lot of makeup, French women don’t have fussy hair, French women don’t have false eyelashes and frilly dresses on. It’s the essence of the style, the undonness, the naturalness that makes them look real. Which I think is also great for any woman to pick up on.
Richard Nahem: Yes and I think it is also much more attainable. You see these celebs on the red carpet and they have a team of ten people around them; the hair person, the makeup person, the person styling the look and the jewelry, and as gorgeous as these women look, it’s not really an attainable look. And even it was attainable, it’s like ‘where are you going?’ if you aren’t a celebrity like that. You’re not going to the mall wearing that red carpet dress.
Where as like I said with French women it’s more attainable where you look at it and think ‘I could pull that off.’
Sharon Haver: If you had to give someone and say, I know they get these style crushes on fantasy women who think they are French but are not, but French women don’t copycat someone else’s style do they? They want their own uniqueness.
Richard Nahem: I do think they pick up on certain styles sometimes, I know a few years ago there was a certain shoe they were all wearing but they were wearing them in so many different ways. It wasn’t a total look, it was just this one shoe that was popular but they had their own style with that. It would still be individual with all of the other parts of the outfit.
Sharon Haver: That’s a great point!
Richard Nahem: Yeah, so again you can buy that one popular accessory to feel fashionable but you don’t have to build your entire wardrobe around it.
Sharon Haver: So Richard this has been so much fun and I could talk to you forever, when we get off of this we’ll have our own personal catch up, but in the meantime if you could tell listeners about what you are working on now, what you are excited about. Where to connect with you and learn more?
Richard Nahem: Sure, I am launching a new photo site with all my photos of Paris and my European travels so look for that early January of February and I am also working on a book proposal about a certain type of restaurant in Paris and planning more interesting tours for next year.
Sharon Haver: So he has two sites as it can get a little confusing, EyePreferParis.com and EyePreferParisTours.com.
Richard Nahem: One is the blog and one is the tour site.
Sharon Haver: And also for those of you in my C’est Chic Crash Course I am sure you are familiar with Richard in there as he is one of our bonus experts and for others if you decide to take that step and join us in there there is a fantastic interview with him.
I miss you like crazy and we were really good people! I mean we did not go on any personal tangents together, Richard and I have known each other for sooooo loooong.
Richard Nahem: Yes, we can read each other like a book!
Sharon Haver: Yes, and thank you so much Richard for being here on 7DaystoAmazing.com
Richard Nahem: A biento, which in French means see you soon!
Sharon Haver: Goodbye!
Announcer: That’s a wrap, well not so fast. Don’t forget to hop over to focusonstyle.com for exclusive content to help you live your most amazing life with style and success. For even more great stuff that Sharon only shares by email, subscribe to her in-the-know list at www.focusonstyle.com/insiders.
See you next time!
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